Monday, July 18, 2011

The blog is up and running again!

Hello everyone! It's high summer here in Chicago, which means spending every available moment outside, lots of back porch BBQing, amazing produce, attending art & music festivals, and (in my case) working all the time (rather than attending school all the time). That last part isn't so terrible, since I have a delightful job as a stacks page in the Special Collections Research Center at the Regenstein Library (if you're interested in the SCRC, be sure to check out our digitized collections... I'm especially fond of these two medieval French manuscripts).

Though my job primarily consists of moving heavy boxes filled with the papers of deceased packrat professors and fighting the inevitable disorder any active library faces, I also have the opportunity to handle truly rare, sometimes strange, and almost always beautiful books. As a bibliophile, this is a joy. As an aspiring book artist, this is an incredible resource and tool. I have learned so much about bookbinding, typography, calligraphy, page layout, illustration, book history, and aesthetics by osmosis alone. And get this: they pay me! For any other aspiring book artists, I highly recommend finding a library job if you can, no matter how unglamorous. While Chief Conservator has a certain ring to it, we all have to start somewhere, right? As an added bonus, library and book people are generally lovely people, and lovely people make for a lovely work environment.

Another major component of my job at the SCRC is helping to prepare and load books and archival materials into the new Joe and Rika Mansueto Library. Mansueto, which was designed by architect Helmut Jahn, is a groundbreaking facility. The building, which is planted directly north of the Regenstein Library, is a large, glass dome that houses a spacious reading room, the preservation lab, and a circulation desk all atop a 5-story underground storage facility. It is known variously by University of Chicago students and staff as The Reg Egg, The Brain, The Spaceship, and That Weird Glowy Dome Thing. Though all these descriptions are apt, Mansueto is mostly an architectural breathe of fresh air--especially on a campus dominated by neo-Gothic and Brutalist buildings . Over the next few days, I plan on writing about it in more detail, but in the meantime, I'll leave you with a photo of its gorgeous reading room. Over the next couple of months, I also plan on posting a few tutorials, lots of links and resources, quotes for lettering practice and inspiration, plus the usual calligraphy and book related miscellany. I hope the summer is treating you all well, and I look forward to writing more! Please let me know if there are any topics you'd be interested in reading about.

Photo by Jason Smith (more photos of and info on Mansueto if you follow the link)

P.S. Maryanne has created a new schedule of course offerings for the fall and early winter. See the Calligraphy Course & Trip Schedule tab above for more information and registration forms.